Another weekend, another APEX card as the UFC returns on Saturday for UFC Vegas 86. In the main event, Joe Pyfer finally gets his chance to break into the middleweight top 15, while Jack Hermansson does his best to hold on to his perennial spot in the rankings by rebuffing another up-and-comer. There are also three more middleweight matchups on Saturday, along with a host of other fights, so let’s get to it.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Brad Tavares +200
Here’s the thing about Brad Tavares: He’s not bad! Tavares is one of the all-time middleweight-y middleweights. Just a dude who is solid everywhere, impressive nowhere, but he’s going to hang around and fraud-check all the up-and-comers hoping to break into the top 15. And while I personally adore watching Gregory Rodrigues and his brand of defensively questionable, strategically poor fighting, he’s also the sort of dude who gets checked by a Tavares. Rodrigues is the superior grappler, but he probably can’t score takedowns and might not even try. He hits hard, but Tavares is cleaner and durable. There is very much a world where Tavares chops the legs down and Rodrigues gasses hard, so this is a great price.
Rodolfo Vieira -115
I’m really contradicting myself with this one. In the above fight, I’m fading the elite grappler with questionable cardio in favor of the rock-solid gatekeeper. In this one, I’m backing the grappler, but for one very specific reason: Armen Petrosyan is not good. Now, he’s not bad, but he’s no Brad Tavares, especially when it comes to the wrestling. Petrosyan is not a good defensive wrestler, and Vieira won’t fall in love with his hands like “Robocop” does, meaning this will go the floor.
Once it’s there, call me crazy, but I’m riding with the umpteen time BJJ world champion to get the win.
Joe Pyfer To Win By KO/TKO/DQ +100
I have a little bit of trepidation about this one, because for all the hype behind him, Pyfer is still quite raw. Extremely powerful, and he hits like a hammer, but there’s a lot of technical refinement to be done. Add to that, we’ve never really seen his cardio tested, and this fight is five rounds. His style doesn’t seem to be one that does well as the fight drags on, and I’ve got questions. That being said, sometimes you’ve gotta ride the wave.
Hermansson has been a staple of this division for what feels like an eternity, but that means Father Time is catching up to him, and I expect Pyfer will, too. But instead of laying the juice on Joe straight up, take this prop as eight of Pyfer’s 12 career wins are by KO and Hermansson has been iced 3 times, including his most recent bout against Roman Dolidze.
Dan Ige To Win By Decision +165
Speaking of divisional staples, Dan Ige has lived in the featherweight top-15 for the last five years, and I see no reason why that will change after this weekend. Andre Fili is a fun fighter, but one who has a clearly defined ceiling, and Ige is simply above that.
Moreover, the fight lines up well for Ige. Ige basically only loses to fighters who will repeatedly take him down and control him (he gave up 14 takedowns to Bryce Mitchell and Movsar Evloev combined). While Fili can wrestle, that’s not his game. This will largely be contested on the feet, where Ige has a little more craft, a little more pop, and a lot better defense. The tread (or increasing lack thereof) on Fili’s tires gives me some pause, but I still like this better than the juice of a straight bet.
Parlay of the Week
Your weekly Contender Series special. Both Oki and Prates are making their UFC debuts from the most recent season of the feeder program, and in my write-up on the season, I marked both of them as “Three-And-D Rotational Players.” Basically, guys who can be fun contributors to UFC shows, but who lack the upside to emerge as contenders. So what else am I supposed to do in a situation like this? I’ve got to tie them together for a parlay!
Is it less than ideal that Oki had a last-minute replacement? Sure. But that can’t be helped for now, and Prates, at least, is highly likely to show out against the less than durable Trevin Giles.
Parlay these two bets together for +108 odds.
Long Shot of the Week
Ihor Potieria To Win By Submission +1100
I’m really reaching with this one. Potieria is not good, but then again, neither is Robert Bryczek. Potieria is also stepping in on short notice, but again, he’s not good so that doesn’t make a ton of difference. He’s also making his 185 pounds debut, and that actually might work out in his favor as he might be a little more durable competing at middleweight instead of 205. Mostly though, this is an emotional hedge.
I will still never forgive the UFC for sending Shogun out, so Potieria could get a win. But if Potieria loses his fourth in the UFC and gets cut, then that was all really for nothing. At least if he makes something of himself, Shogun’s (figurative) death won’t have been in vain. And given that he has seven career submissions — and again, Bryczek isn’t good either — I’ll take a stab at this.
Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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